Borgia wasn’t about to let lightning strike twice in the same situation.
For the second straight season, the third-seeded Knights played sixth-seeded Francis Howell Central in the opening round of the Washington Boys Basketball Tournament.
The Spartans upset Borgia last season, but it didn’t happen again in 2014.
The Knights (8-2) took control of the game late in the second quarter and cruised to a 58-41 win Tuesday at Washington High School.
“We knew they were going to play hard and that we had to match their intensity,” said Borgia Head Coach Dave Neier. “They’re a good team and it took a good effort on our kids’ part. Our kids off the bench came in and played well. A lot of guys did a lot of good things for us.”
Borgia plays second-seeded St. Charles (11-3) Friday at 7:30 p.m. in the championship semifinals.
Top-seeded Washington (8-5) and fourth-seeded Bayless (9-2) meet in the other semifinal contest Friday at 6 p.m.
The third-place and championship games are Saturday at 5:30 p.m. and 7 p.m., respectively.
The Knights defeated St. Charles in last season’s tournament consolation game, 63-61.
“We’re going to have to play well. They can absolutely take a game over with the way they shoot the ball,” Neier said of St. Charles. “They have some offensive firepower with (Casey) Teson and (Chase) Morfeld, and they also have some other kids who can score. They’re one of the top teams in the state in Class 4. It will give us a barometer of where we are and what we need to work on before the end of the year. We have two big challenges ahead of us in this tournament.”
Led by sophomore guard Walton Eckelkamp, Borgia came out flying to start the game.
Eckelkamp scored the Knights’ first 10 points and 17 of their first 19.
For the game, Eckelkamp finished with 20 points, 17 in the first half, shooting 4-7 from three-point range.
“Walton was hot. Our kids were unselfish enough to make sure that he got the ball and smart enough to look for him to get him some shots,” Neier said. “We were very fortunate that he was putting them in because they came back pretty strong in the second quarter and actually got the lead.”
Joe Helfrich finished with 12 points, eight rebounds and three steals.
Adam Meyer collected eight points, five rebounds and two assists.
Zac Schweissguth had seven points, eight assists and three steals.
“Zac Schweissguth has the quickness and the strength to get the ball to the bucket and put some pressure on the defense,” Neier said.
Kevin Birk pitched in with two points, five rebounds, four assists and three steals.
Clayton Voss netted five points. Tyler Breckenkamp scored three points. Jacob Neier had one point. Spencer Juergens grabbed two rebounds.
“We were able to get the ball inside to Adam Meyer and Joe Helfrich. They were able to get some big buckets,” Neier said. “Kevin Birk does such a great job as a team player. He really talks on defense and helps everybody understand what they’re supposed to be doing and who they’re matching up with.”
Howell Central was led by Marc Crawford, who scored 11 points. Tre Curry added nine points. Allen Erby and Stefon Whitson both scored six.
Borgia held a 16-10 lead after one quarter, but Howell Central responded with an 8-0 run to start the second quarter to grab an 18-16 advantage.
Eckelkamp then hit a three-pointer to put the Knights ahead for good, 19-18.
“We were lucky that Walt was hot at the beginning of the game. They did a good job of getting around us and getting the ball inside early in the game,” Neier said. “It really helped once we figured out what we needed to do defensively.”
Borgia ended the first half with a 15-4 run, capped on a steal and a basket at the buzzer by Birk, to take a 31-22 lead into halftime.
“What a great spurt we made at the end of the half,” Neier said. “We made a couple of free throws and then Kevin stole the in-bound pass and put in a bucket, which gave us a little bit of a cushion.”
St. Charles (7-5) dominated seventh-seeded Ft. Zumwalt East 77-25 in Tuesday’s other first-round game.
Casey Teson finished with 19 points, six rebounds, five assists and four steals for the Pirates.
Sam Kohrs added 16 points and eight rebounds. Rhaheem Alexander scored nine points. Luke Joslin had eight points.
Zumwalt East’s stats were not available at press time.